Recently I met a new neighbor with two children of similar ages and our kids really hit it off. We met on Instagram of all places, through a mutual friend, and even though we have known each other virtually for a while, it’s just been over past 6 months we’ve gotten to know each other in person. We have a similar professional background pre-chdilren and now both makers with Etsy shops. I felt very comfortable getting our kids together for playdates because we already had an inside peek at each other’s lives. After the first couple dates it was clear our kids had common interests too.
When I learned that my neighbor friend had a nanny come to her place twice a week for just a few hours, I was so jealous! What I would give for a set time to write, meet with clients and yes do the occasional thing for myself.
It was a funny coincidence that the nanny was actually my kids former nanny from a year ago! Since our kids had been getting along so well, we talked about testing out a nanny share. I’ve had other mom friends talk about how much they loved nanny sharing, but never really looked into it myself. This was the first time I ever considered it, mainly because our kids were so close in age and they were already familiar with the care provider.
The other mom and I talked it over and decided to give it a trial run. We agreed to split the cost and alternate homes every other week. This way we both saved money, the nanny would get paid more and the kids have an opportunity to socialize with friends on a regular basis. We each pay $10/hr for two kids and I’m happy to report our nanny share has been going strong for almost 6 months now.
Yet, that’s not to say I haven’t learned a thing or two along the way.
If you’re considering a nanny share situation for your kids, here are tips I recommend:
Be clear about expectations.
Communicate with the other parent regularly and set up expectations from each other AND the childcare provider. This is especially important if you plan to alternate locations. For example, will the host home provide lunch? Will you be sharing supplies like wipes? Who will pay the childcare provide or will you both pay separately?
Find a family that lives in the area.
A nanny share won’t be as comfortable or successful if you need to drive 30 minutes away. We are lucky enough to walk down the street to our nanny share location and its a great adventure for my kiddos and exercise for me!
Prepare healthy snacks.
Or at least consider healthy options! Either purchase snacks that everyone can eat, or send your kids with ample snacks or lunch so they aren’t eating a ton of some other families food. The family I nanny share with has a similar view on food (low sugar, no processed food, organic fruits or veggies etc.) so it’s never been a problem, but I could see this becoming a point of contention for some moms. Talk about snacks and food before you enter into a nanny share agreement to make sure there is a clear understanding of what is allowed and what isn’t.
Now I don’t mean you need to have a set agenda of intricate arts and crafts, but one or two planned things set out really helps the nanny to guide kids into play mode. I usually scout Pinterest or use this website to download free educational materials. Or simply set out puzzles in one area, stickers and paper in another and you’re all set. Different types of books are great too and there is always the $1 section of Target.
Set off-limits areas.
One of the first times my kids went to our nanny share I learned they were playing in an area that they shouldn’t have been. Let you kids and care provider know what areas are safe for play, and which aren’t. In our house the off-limit areas include our office, master bedroom and master bathroom. The kids can play anywhere else, including the yards as long as it’s safe and everyone is together. Since there are 4 kids if some want to be outside, everyone needs to be outside. Make it easy for the nanny!
Determine if the nanny will clean up or the host family. Usually I make my kids help me when we are guests in another home to teach them good manners.
Share important information.
Print off a list of emergency contacts, spouse numbers, pediatricians and medications. Explain thoroughly your children’s medical backgrounds or if there are any special needs.
Be clear about bathroom etiquette.
If your children are still in diapers you want to set an area for changes, be that in a nursery, bathroom or else wear. My daughter is in cloth diapers, so special instructions were given to both the nanny and the other mom on how to handle them properly. If you’re toilet training be sure to let the other mom or caregiver know how much assistance your child needs. Is a stool required? Are they good at remembering to wash hands? Maybe send some antibacterial spray just in case!
Have an emergency plan.
If something happens, both moms should be on the same page with regards to emergencies. In our situation 90 percent of the time the other mom or I am home during the nanny share. However, if we weren’t there is a plan in place for how emergencies should be handled, who should be called and what to do.
Talk about what’s important.
Discipline, screen time, sharing toys, how much snack is acceptable, these are all things you should go over with your nanny share care provider and the other family. For me, there is no screen time. But outside play? Yes, please! Some kids love things like play-dough or coloring with markers. Other kids should be kept away for everyone’s safety! If you have small babies talk about how frequently to change them, how to stimulate them or how to soothe.
Like any other agreement, a nanny share should have set terms for things like schedule, payment and termination. For example my nanny share is only temporary, until my kids start pre-school in the fall. But, if you’re entering into a long-term agreement be aware that at some point any number of issues could arise and you’ll need to call it quits. Be real with yourself as a mother and as a friend to the other mom. Don’t compromise your happiness or your children’s welfare if things aren’t working out. Be honest and understand that it may not work out. In the end, its better to have set terms than to loose a mom friend or worse have your kids lose a play friend because of a misunderstanding.
I honestly believe part of the reason why my nanny share has been such a smooth arrangement for us both has to do with communication. Most of the other moms I spoke with about nanny sharing ran into problems with the mom-to-mom relationship, not necessarily anything to do with the care provider or the children. From the beginning we were very clear about expectations and when things start to not work for either of us, I’m confident we’ll be able to be up front about why and what the next steps should be.
If nanny sharing sounds like something that could benefit your family, talk it over with your spouse or chat with other moms and see if it feels right for you. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into and treat the situation professionally with openness and kindness like the #momboss I know you are!